Determined developers never call it quits.
And that’s the case with Andy Coltart and his Tukituki river-side development at one of the river’s most scenic and recreationally enjoyed locations. Last month BayBuzz reported that Hastings Council planning staff recommended denying — full stop — Coltart’s application to intensively develop a 25 hectare property along the Tukituki (indeed, 8.5 hectares is the riverbed and river channel itself!).
Staff concluded that landscape and recreational values at Horseshoe Bend would be compromised so adversely by such intensive development that mitigation measures could not achieve the protections required by the District Plan and the RMA. They further argued that granting this application would create a precedent conducive to similar development along the Tukituki, thwarting both existing and pending rural development policy for the District, which aims to protect the rural character and amenity of the Tukituki area.
Rather than challenge the staff recommendation in the normal hearing process, Coltart has taken another tack. Shelving his earlier plan to have the matter decided with the property classified as “Rural”, he has forced HDC to concede that, because of historical oversight, the land at issue is in fact un-zoned. Therefore the Council has no authority over land use on the property! Coltart can build whatever and wherever he wants on the property; only if he seeks to create separate titles will the Council have any leverage on the situation.
Once again it seems that determined developers with clever lawyers can generally find a loophole in the District Plan … in this case one big enough to drive a bus through.
The Council staff still holds the view that Coltart’s planned intensive development would be irredeemably damaging. No environmental facts have changed. Discussions continue amongst Coltart, Hastings Council and opposing submitter Bruno Chambers.
For now the fate of this spectacular unspoiled stretch of the Tukituki is in Coltart’s hands … and public goodwill is his to earn or lose. Ultimately, however, the RMA might stand in his way.